For the last time this season, the No. 6 University of Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team is hitting the road. The team is headed to Fort Worth, Texas to compete in the NCAA National Championships. This is the 44th time the team will compete for the national title.
This year’s NCAA Championship will have a different set up than in years past. The team will have the opportunity to compete in two meets this weekend. To begin, the team will compete in the first semifinal on Friday, Apr. 19 at 1 p.m. CST. They will take on three teams they have already seen this season: No. 2 UCLA, No. 4 LSU and No. 7 Michigan. If the team places in the top two during this meet, they will then compete in the National Championship meet on Saturday, Apr. 20. This meet will take the top two finishers from the first semifinal and the top two finishers from the second semifinal to determine who will be this year’s champion.
The Red Rocks are coming into this year’s national championship after taking second in the Baton Rouge regional two weeks ago. In the first semifinal, the Red Rocks took first place, but fell just short of finishing the season scoring 197 in all meets. The 196.800 was enough to claim their spot in the regional final the next day.
In the regional final, the team came in second just behind LSU. The team got back into the groove of things, scoring a 197.250 on the backside of a strong beam rotation. During the regional championship, junior MyKayla Skinner fell off the uneven bars and thus ending her streak of routines without a fall at 161.
At the individual level, two Red Rocks are ranked on events and in the All-Around category. Skinner is ranked No. 3 in the nation as an All-Around competitor. She is No. 2 on the vault, No. 6 on the floor and is tied for No. 6 on the bars. Kari Lee is the lone Red Rock ranked on the beam. She is tied for 18th in the nation on the event.
Utah’s rotation will be floor, vault, bars and then beam.
The defending national champion makes their push to make it two in a row starting on Friday. The Bruins crushed to victory in both of their regional meets last week. The team cracked the 198-point mark in their regional final meet.
This will be the third time the Red Rocks and Bruins will meet this season. Both meetings between the two have been close, hard-fought matches in which the Bruins have came out on top.
The rotation for the Bruins is vault, bars, beam and they will end on the floor.
LSU is the regional champion coming out of the Baton Rouge region. LSU gymnast Sarah Finnegan was named the Central Gymnast of the Year by Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association.
This will be the third time that the Red Rocks will see the Tigers. All three meetings were decided by less than one point. At the GymQuarters Invitational, the Tigers won the meet by 0.175 points. At last week’s regional finals, the Tigers prevailed by 0.25 points.
LSU will start on the beam, then move to the floor and vault and will end their day on the bars.
Michigan finished in second place in the Ann Arbor region two weeks ago, falling short to UCLA in the regional final. The team scored their highest of their regional scores at the finals, where they scored a 197.275.
Utah and Michigan met once this season where the Red Rocks came up on top, 197.975-197.350.
The Wolverines will rotate from bars and beam to floor and vault.
Fast Facts for Session 2
No. 1 Oklahoma:
Regional Qualifying score: 198.115
Season high: 198.475
Rotation order: vault, bars, beam, floor
Oklahoma is the regional champion coming out of the Athens region.
No. 5 Denver:
Regional Qualifying score: 197.545
Season high: 197.775
Rotation order: beam, floor, vault, bars
Denver is the regional champion coming out of the Corvallis region.
No. 8 Georgia
Regional Qualifying Score: 197.315
Season high: 198.050
Rotation order: bars, beam, floor, vault
Georgia is the runner-up from the Athens region.
No. 15 Oregon State
Regional Qualifying Score: 196.625
Season high: 197.450
Rotation order: floor, vault, bars, beam
The Beavers upset Florida to claim the final spot into nationals.
Where to Watch
Friday’s meet will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and ESPNU with the first session starting at 1 p.m. CST and the second session beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday’s national championship meet will be on ESPN2 starting at 7 p.m.